With 80 million Easter eggs sold in the UK each year, and 500 million Cadbury creme eggs produced, the stigma of chocolate being unhealthy doesn’t stop us from going crazy about it each Spring.
Despite the typically high fat and sugar content, there is always a silver lining, so highlighted in this post are some benefits of chocolate!
The general ingredients for chocolate are:
- Cocoa butter
- Cacoa mass (ground cacoa nibs)
- Milk powder (if milk chocolate)
We should limit our intake of sugar and fat, the UK government dietary recommendations can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide However, they do serve an important purpose within the diet. Sugar (sucrose), is broken down into glucose in our bodies, which can be used as fuel in the brain and other areas of the body. Fats are essential for the production of steroid hormones, for absorption of some nutrients and for insulation. Cocoa butter, added to chocolate, contains saturated and unsaturated fats. The unsaturated fat is Oleic acid, also in olive oil, which has shown to have some benefits for heart health.
The benefits of cacoa mass is more significant in dark chocolate, as it has a much higher percentage of the cacoa compared to milk chocolate, and white chocolate which has none at all. Cacoa, is a source of a range of nutrients. 50g of dark chocolate can provide 22% daily recommended value (DRV) of Iron, 18% DRV magnesium and 14% DRV dietary fibre.
Cacoa is known to contain high levels of antioxidants. These help reduce levels of oxidative stress within the body, and consequently can reduce build up of fatty plaque in arteries, a cause of stoke and coronary heart disease. It is also a source of mood-boosting chemical Phenethylamine (PEA), however a proportion of this is broken down in the small intestine, so the concentration of PEA that makes it to the brain for it’s stimulatory effect is limited.
Powdered milk, is a source of calcium and protein. Calcium is naturally occurring in cow’s milk and essential for bone strength and health. The protein is from milk protein Whey and protein is vital for growth and repair of our bodies.
As we can see, the ingredients of chocolate can have some beneficial effect in our bodies and therefore some of the guilt we feel when we eat it now may be slightly lifted!
Moderation is the key:
However we must remember everything should be eaten in moderation and a balanced diet is key to our long term health. So treat yourself to some chocolate this Easter, just maybe not 5 eggs in a row!
Not a chocolate fan – try some of our recipes:
If chocolate isn’t your thing why not try an alternative this Easter https://bit.ly/2vmp60I